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Halt To Aerial Spray Programme Called For

For Immediate Release – 24th June 2002

Immediate Halt To Aerial Spray Programme Called For As Cabinet Meets To Decide The Future Of A Pest Eradication Operation

As Cabinet meets to decide future options for eradicating the Painted Apple Moth in Auckland, the MAF established Community Advisory Group (PAM-CAG) has called on the Prime Minister to halt all aerial spraying immediately.

“We have written urgently to the Prime Minister to ask for an immediate halt to the aerial spray programme,” said Mr Kubi Witten-Hannah, PAM-CAG chairman.

“Lack of concern for public health shown by MAF and its health consultants during this eradication make it unacceptable for any further aerial spraying to take place, either in this programme or the next.”

Last week members of the PAM-CAG met with several local people who were being evacuated during the spraying and who had serious issues with the way that MAF had responded to their health problems.

Problems included people being forced to leave motels before their medical advice indicated it was safe for them to return home and pressure being placed on doctors to change their medical advice.

“We have documentary evidence of MAF putting pressure on doctors.” said Mr Witten-Hannah. “MAF consultants made it very difficult for people to get any support for their health problems. Now even the very small number offered evacuation during spraying are being harassed.”

Mr Kubi Witten-Hannah said the PAM-CAG has worked with MAF to try and reduce the impact of the aerial spray programme on the people of west Auckland. But ongoing issues about the way people with serious health problems have been treated have made this co-operation increasingly difficult. "The way in which the last spray round was conducted has finally made it impossible," said Mr Witten-Hannah.

Cabinet will be considering a series of options presented by MAF for continuing the operation, with recommendations to aerial spray from 12,000 to 35,000 hectares. Rejecting any aerial spraying component of an eradication, the PAM-CAG has submitted its own eradication plan.

The PAMCAG is urging the government to adopt its community based approach to eradication that does not rely on aerial spraying. The Community Option has been critically reviewed by a group of respected scientists brought together by the Group. Their Science Report, which has also been sent to government, concluded that there could be no decisions made on ANY option until all the critical scientific data had been analysed and the area of infestation finally delimited.

“It is critical that the research recommended in the science report is begun immediately,” said Mr Witten-Hannah. “Next spring may represent our last chance to get rid of the painted apple moth."

Contact: Kubi Witten-Hannah
Tel: 09 812 8851 - 025 248 0282 - k.witten-hannah@xtra.co.nz

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